The United States and its Educational Disparity

The educational systems within the United States, unlike in other countries, are not entirely regulated by the federal government. Instead, the federal government’s contribution to the Education Department is only 8 per cent of funding, including funds from the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture’s School Lunch program. Consequentially, the states and their cities have varying educational requirements, and thus the racial and educational disparities are seen. Funding efforts are more visible in wealthy, white or Asian neighbourhoods, which show a better academic standard. In contrast, funding for students and their education is often overlooked and neglected in more impoverished, traditionally black, Latin, or Arab neighbourhoods. Many schools remain segregated within the United States due to the educational standards dictated by cities, states, and counties that rely on residential zones to place children into their future schools.

Although segregation in schools was ruled unlawful and unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the revolutionary 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, segregation is still seen throughout the United States elementary, middle, and high schools. As the responsibility falls on the states to fund education and provide for the nation’s future, many fall short and instead rely on the funding raised by the neighbourhoods schools are located. However, as many harmful stereotypes about race and education persist in American culture and society, lower-income families have difficulty sending their children to schools that encourage students to learn and grow in knowledge.

Due to this, many more impoverished neighbourhoods have trouble finding skilled teachers, informative curriculums, and receiving funding. Although public education comes from the taxes of American citizens, families are free to donate and raise money for schools as they see fit. Therefore, studies have found that the wealthiest school districts can spend ten times as much money as the poorest. Because the lack of funding is seen in the predominantly black, Latin, or Arab school districts, these schools have a great degree of harm on the education of students, as they cannot afford the resources needed for learning.

While some school districts have attempted to try and help stem racial inequality, it persists throughout the United States. Many students are automatically assumed to be intellectually challenged based on their race and their neighbourhoods. Standardized testing in the United States still asks about a student’s race and ethnic background, which puts many students into a fear mindscape that they cannot do well in school because of their race or ethnicity. While there is absolutely no proof that they are inherently intelligent because someone is of a certain race or ethnicity, these stereotypes are reinforced through the American school system. For racial disparity to begin to change, America must change how its children receive an education so that all students can access quality education and have better, brighter living standards or at least a fair chance at getting the that they rightly deserve.

Author’s Note: I wanted to write this as I grew up seeing the effects of the American educational system with the beautiful people in my city. As I have grown older, the scale of this inequality has only become more visible to myself and others. If the United States wants to be considered a superpower, it will have to change its basic educational foundations to provide equality for all its citizens.

REFERENCES

Barshay, Jill. “A Decade of Research on Education Inequality in America.” The Hechinger Report, 29 June 2020,

hechingerreport.org/a-decade-of-research-on-the-rich-poor-divide-in-education

“Federal Role in Education.” Home, US Department of Education (ED), 15 June 2021, www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/role.html

 Ireland, Corydon. “The Costs of Inequality: Education’s the One Key That Rules Them All.” Harvard Gazette, Harvard Gazette, 1 Apr. 2019, www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/02/the-costs-of-inequality-educations-the-one-key-that-rules-them-all/

 Jencks, Christopher, and Meredith Phillips. “The Black-White Test Score Gap: Why It Persists and What Can Be Done.” Brookings, Brookings, 28 July 2016, www.brookings.edu/articles/the-black-white-test-score-gap-why-it-persists-and-what-can-be-done/

Meatto, Keith. “Still Separate, Still Unequal: Teaching about School Segregation and Educational Inequality.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 May 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/05/02/learning/lesson-plans/still-separate-still-unequal-teaching-about-school-segregation-and-educational-inequality.html

 Pelsue, Brendan. “When It Comes to Education, the Federal Government Is in Charge of … Um, What?” Harvard Graduate School of Education, www.gse.harvard.edu/news/ed/17/08/when-it-comes-education-federal-government-charge-um-what

Madeleine Smith is a junior history major at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., United States.

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